Occasional posts on subjects including field recording, London history and literature, other websites worth looking at, articles in the press, and news of sound-related events.

18 February 2011

Naiant mics: best value binaurals around?

THERE’S A RECENT recording on the UK Soundmap of the sounds of Leciester City Market.

Helpfully, the recordist left a comment stating it’d been made using a Tascam DR-100 recorder and Naiant X-X mics in a binaural array. It sounds pretty good to me:

Looking up the X-X omnidirectional mics on the Naiant website uncovered a surprise.

Naiant X-X mics

First, the spec looks encouraging. Self-noise of 23dB, sensitivity of 25mv/Pa, maximum sound pressure level of 126dB, although a bit big on the stealth side with a capsule 9mm in diameter and 25mm long. The details have gone up on the Budget headworn mics page so you can compare them to other makes and models.

Now for the surprise. They’re $109 for a matched pair. The nearest equivalent to them on the budget mic list is the Shure WL-183, which will set you back £250 a pair. So what’s the catch?

The Naiant X-Xs need phantom power of between 9 and 48 volts. Most small recorders only supply plug-in power of around 5V, and they don’t have XLR sockets. You’d need to use them with a larger recorder like the Tascam DR-100, Zoom H4n or Marantz PMD-661. All three of those are sort-of pocketable, while bigger phantom juice-delivering machines like the Fostex FR-2LE have to go in a bag or on a shoulder strap.

Naiant also sell low-cost mic preamps, but it’d be handy if they just made a simple battery box to power the X-Xs, like Core Sound do for their DPA 4060 mics. Even so, the Naiant X-Xs appear to offer exceptional value.